Filmmakers sweat under lockdown


LOCAL filmmakers have not been spared by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has stalled activity in most sectors such as tourism, transport, industry and commerce following the 21-day lockdown order by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to curb the spread of the virus.


NewsDay Life & Style spoke to a number of filmmakers who admitted that the lockdown had brought most of their productions to a standstill as they were no longer able to shoot.

“We were shooting a comedy series, Bazukuru, and we had just shot four episodes. We hoped to shoot 13 without glitches, but nature took its course. The lockdown paused the shooting process. However, I am editing the episodes from home,” said filmmaker Kudzai Chikomo.

Chikomo told NewsDay Life & Style that the lockdown had, however, taught them important lessons.

“We need insurance for the creative industries in Zimbabwe, that’s the only way we can protect ourselves from losses because we cannot control nature or an act of God. It (insurance cover) will protect everyone in the industries. If we had planned to pay people after production, then we stop — it means it will take time before they get their dues,” he said.

“Interestingly, the situation has created a demand for online content. People are home all day and they need something to entertain them. Unfortunately, you can’t go out to shoot now, but for those that have ready content, it’s an opportunity. CGI [computer-generated imagery] can also be an option in times like this, voice actors, writers, illustrators and animators can work remotely.”

Zambezi Film School founding partner and lecturer, Sadat Sanhehwe, also said they had to halt production.

“Despite suspending classes, the shooting of productions we were concurrently working on came to a standstill. The other was left with two days of shooting. The other was about to go into principal photography,” he said.

Sanhehwe, however, said they would use the time available to them during the lockdown to perfect their scripts.

In-house media director of photography and editor, Admire Kanhenga, said the post-production process of Botswana television drama, Mojwadi (The Sower), already showing on DStv Channel 290, has been disturbed.

“We needed to go back to Botswana to meet the producers for them to check if we did the cuts. This was supposed to happen at a time we were also going to shoot in that neighbouring country a film with an American producer,” he said.

Priviledge Jabulani Chigowanyika, production manager of a forthcoming film, The Temple, said when the 21-day lockdown was pronounced, his production company, Downrains Entertainment, was about to go on shoot.

“The pandemic and, eventually, the lockdown, came at a time we were about to shoot The Temple and we were forced to stop in response to the President’s decree. The film will feature musician Tatenda Mahachi and music promoter Aldrian Harrison,” he said.
Production of an animation film titled Patriotic Force was also affected.

“Although we set dates for our premier in October, the future seems to be very uncertain. The lockdown also slowed down the production process to an extent that we may not be able to finish working on the first three episodes before October,” co-producer Sharmaine Mutemererwa said.

“Meeting up with music producers and musicians who are doing the animation’s theme song is now a challenge. This does not come out well if working independently at home.”